Changing a Flat Tire 101

Car and traffic cone.

When you experience car trouble, it’s nice to know that help is most often just a phone call away. But a little education about some basic car maintenance and repair will go a long way if you’re ever caught in a tricky situation.

Flat tires are a common roadside problem. Unfortunately, since you can’t do much to prevent a flat tire in most situations, they always seem to “pop” up when you have somewhere important to be. The good news is, if you know the basics of how to change a tire, a flat won’t slow you down for long. Follow these six easy steps to change a flat tire and get back on the road in a flash:

1. Prepare your car

Find a safe, flat area to pull over and change your tire. Try to move away from the flow of traffic. Then, gather the proper equipment. You’ll need a car jack, a lug wrench and a spare tire. Remember, safety comes first. It’s a good idea to consider Roadside Assistance coverage to be prepared for situations like this.

2. Loosen the lug nuts

Remove the hubcap to reveal the lug nuts. These are what secure the wheel to your car. Use the lug wrench to loosen them, but don’t remove the lug nuts completely.

3. Jack up the car

Place the jack under the car. If you’re new to this, you’ll want to refer to the owner’s manual, which will indicate correct placement of the jack. Once in place, crank the jack to support (but not lift) the corner of the vehicle where you’re changing the tire.

4. Remove the flat

With the jack in place, remove the lug nuts completely and slide the flat tire off. Put the lug nuts in a secure place like your pocket or in an empty cup to make sure they don’t roll away.

5. Line up the spare

Line up the spare tire with the lug-nut holes. Then, replace the lug nuts, tightening with your hand until you feel resistance.

6. Lower the jack

Once the lug nuts are back in place, lower the jack, shifting the weight back to the tire. Use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts securely. Remember, this is what’s holding the tire to your car, so it’s important to tighten the lug nuts as snugly as you can.

Though flat tires are the most common cause of roadside trouble, it’s important to have the right tools at hand to get you back on the road in a variety of situations. Check out this post for more tips to be prepared for a roadside emergency.

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